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In brief: News from around the Pacific

Monday 17 January 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional

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In brief: News from around the Pacific
Residents waiting outside a vaccination centre for their AstraZeneca dose, 2021. Photo: AFP

Nine more people have died from Covid-19 in Fiji as health authorities continue to battle a surge in cases of the Omicron and Delta variants across the country.

Covid-19 Fiji: Nine more deaths, 733 new cases in the community

The latest deaths bring the toll to 730 since March 2020.

Fiji's Government also confirmed 248 Covid-19 patients are in hospital in serious condition.

There have been 733 new cases since the last update on January the 12th.

This takes the total number of active cases in isolation in Fiji to just over 5,126.

100 RSE workers in Australia test positive to Covid-19

The Samoa Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour has confirmed more than 100 Samoan workers in Australia on the Seasonal Workers Programme have tested positive to coronavirus since they arrived there.

The Samoa Observer reports the Ministry's CEO, Pulotu Lyndon Chu Ling, said all workers on this short-term employment scheme to Australia were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before departure.

However, he said more than 1000 workers from participating Pacific Island countries have tested positive.

Pulotu said there have been no reports of Samoan workers in New Zealand returning positive tests.

He confirmed more seasonal workers are scheduled to leave Samoa on flights approved by Cabinet last week and his office expects the number of workers in Australia to reach 3000 soon.

The Australian Seasonal Workers Programme started in 2011.

Samoa's opposition leader released from hospital

Samoa's opposition leader Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has been released from hospital in Apia after spending three days under observation.

The veteran politician had complained of a fever as well as general tiredness following his weekly press conference last Thursday and doctors decided to admit him.

An official statement from the Human Rights Protection Party said Tuilaepa was recovering well from the flu and that he required plenty of bed rest.

Meanwhile Parliament resumes sitting this morning and Tuilaepa is not expected to be in attendance according to party sources.

A member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, he told media last Thursday that their report to Parliament was finished and would be tabled for the second reading of 2021/2022 Supplementary Budget.

Wallis villagers baffled at bird deaths

Reports from Wallis and Futuna say for several months some seabirds on small islands appear to be unusually weak and many die suddenly.

According to local television, the phenomenon afflicts mainly black noddies, with some of them found dead on the beach.

Locals say they had not observed this before and notified the environment service about it.

A volunteer suggests the birds struggle to find food after finding that the stomach of a dissected bird was empty.

Schools reopen in French Polynesia

Schools in French Polynesia will reopen today after unusually heavy rain forced their closure last week.

The government says the weather situation has improved for classes to resume.

The Society Islands experienced torrential rain late last week which triggered landslides and caused disruptions.

Bans were in force on any leisure activity in the mountains until last night and pleasure crafts were forced to stay ashore.

According to the met service, this January has already become the fifth wettest since records began more than 60 years ago, with some places recording up to 432 mm of rain in just two days.

A bridge in Pueu on Tahiti was damaged and is now closed to heavy vehicles.